A few months ago, Sarah Henry, Chief Curator at the Museum of the City of New York,
was preparing an exhibit about the deadly Spanish flu of 1918.
Today that history is Henrys reality.
As New York City has become the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the US,
but Henry is careful about applying yesterdays lessons to COVID-19.
I think we look back to history to see how weve coped in the past,
to see if there are lessons to be drawn, but always carefully,
because sometimes you take a lesson from one disease,
you fly to another disease and it doesnt translate so well.
The 1918 pandemic killed by virus estimates from twenty to a hundred million people worldwide,
more lives than the war.
In the US the first waves of the so-called Spanish influenza arrived with soldiers returning from Europe toward the end of the World War One.
A ship docking in New York in the summer of 1918 brought the first cases.
Since the war wasnt over, the city decided to keep the docks open isolating the sick on dry land.
They had a big debate about whether to close the schools,
and we just went through that debate here,
and the schools have just closed in New York City as we speak.
In 1918 they decided not to close the schools,
because they felt that many of the students would be safer in school,
where there was more hygienic practice.
And of course they were looking at the tenement neighborhoods.
New Yorks theaters also stayed open 100 years ago, with no radio,TV or let alone internet.
Theaters were used to help spread information which included lectures on self-care.
Interestingly, the mortality rate in New York turned up being lower than in many American cities.
Historians believe this was because authorities closed the subway after quickly recognizing the dangers of keeping it open.
Were looking at particularly the rush hours in the morning and the evening,
and thinking about how to get the subways less crowded.
So this was a kind of combination of mandatory and voluntary,
and that they work together with the different business sectors,
to plan that different kinds of businesses would open at different times.
What makes COVID-19 different from the Spanish flu,
is that the 1918 sickness was more dangerous for younger healthy adults,
especially those who worked in the service industry.
They were obliged to wear masks,
and those who didnt were fined and faced serious consequences.
They authorized the police to give out tickets basically they made coughing and sneezing,
a misdemeanor if you didnt cover, you didnt cover your mouth.
The New York City hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of patients,
with the population of about 5 million people at the time.
More than 30,000 New Yorkers died during the pandemic.
It took the city two and a half months to finally conquer the virus.
For Anna Nelson, New York, VOA news, Anna Rice.
VOA新闻，Anna Nelson撰稿， Anna Rice报道。